The days are ticking away until the end of the season, and the Flyers closed out their Canadian road trip with their final game against the Canadians, and picked up a somewhat unexpected 6-3 win for themselves. So they’re not going to completely lose out after all.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Two big things
Despite what the score might suggest, this wasn’t exactly a very fun game. Maybe part of it is just fatigue from being at this point in the season, but this is also just kind of what you get in a late season meeting between two of the three worst teams in the league. The teams pretty evenly traded chances—the Flyers won the 5-on-5 shot share 27-26—but the really dangerous chances were relatively fewer and farther between. This game was a little messy, but that’s to be expected as the Flyers continue to move deeper into “barely icing an NHL team” territory. But it’s still a win that likely means a lot to a team that’s spinning out so much down the stretch (even if we know that every loss means more for draft position).
A big night for the kids
With the injuries continuing the pile up for the Flyers, as we alluded to in our last section, they’re being forced to rely more and more heavily on their young players and prospects, and last night, that worked out quite well for them. Of the six goals scored on the night and the 10 players that factored into them with points awarded, nine of those players were 25 or younger. Ivan Provorov, Oskar Lindblom, Morgan Frost, and Travis Konecny all picked up goals. New additions Bobby Brink and Noah Cates picked up at least one assist on the night, and both stood out for their strength in forechecking in particular.
And while he was one of the few young players who didn’t get on the board last night, Owen Tippett really flashed offensively, looking to create some nice chances, and that was good work all the same.
And all of this does feel a bit encouraging. Maybe a pessimist would argue that someone has to score during garbage time, and the kids are the only ones left to do it, but there really is still something to say for them still showing up and producing. Who knows what next season is going to look like, but if Fletcher sticks to his plan of building up a core or players around the age of 25, at least some of these players here are going to be keys to that. So it’s nice to see things clicking for them already.
Bits and bobs
The James van Riemsdyk show
Speaking of players still showing up and producing during garbage time, van Riemsdyk is sure on a bit of a tear here. After putting up a goal in Tuesday’s loss to the Leafs, van Riemsdyk was able to keep that momentum rolling and chipped in two more goals in last night’s win, and also an assist on Provorov’s goal.
It’s been a weird season for him, to put it lightly, and at times he was looking to be the streakiest he’s ever been (and a real nonreactor at other times). And again, maybe if these games meant more at this point in time we would be happy to see him stepping up here, but context is muddying that a bit. In a vacuum, it’s still good work though.
The power play still a disaster
We don’t want to spend too much time beating this point into the ground, because it’s really not anything new.
The Flyers had a good bit of time to work with on the power play last night, and it did not go well for them. They really struggled to get set up in the offensive zone and create chances—they had just five shots on goal and five scoring chances in nine minutes of power play time. And what’s even worse is that their offensive efforts were very close to matched by the Canadiens’ shorthanded chances, as the Flyers only barely managed to win the share of shot attempts 9-6, of shots on goal 5-4, and the share of scoring chances 5-3, we should emphasize, all while having one more player on the ice than the Habs.
But, all that said, we came away from those power plays feeling like they were successes because the Flyers didn't give up a shorthanded goal, which really tells you all you need to know about how things are going around here.
Welcome, Linus Hogberg!
We talked about the kids in general already, but we wanted to take an extra moment to toss a nod Hogberg’s way. It hasn’t been an easy season for him individually—things have been weird for the Phantoms and he’d been hit a bit with the injury bug—and while he’s settling in well with the Phantoms and adjusting to the AHL level, no one really expected him to get a look at the NHL level this soon.
But when another defenseman gets hurt (Kevin Connauton this time) and the need for an emergency recall strikes, you go with it, and credit to him, he held up well in his first NHL game. His usage was a bit limited, as he played 17:25 across all situations (not a low total, but relative to Sanheim’s 29:57 and Provorov’s 25:57, it’s limited), but he did okay there. He didn’t flash a whole lot—outside, of course, picking up an assist on Lindblom’s goal for his first NHL point—but that might be for the best. He was thrown into a tough situation here, but it was nice to see him get rewarded with that point, and he gained a bit of good experience, to boot.
A new opportunity for Ronnie Attard
Sticking on the young defensemen subject for a moment longer, another interesting wrinkle in last night’s game was the new need to bump Attard up to play alongside Provorov, which was certainly a big opportunity for him, after he’s been largely stuck playing with the depth defenseman flavor of the day up until this point. And while he, like Hogberg, ended up getting sheltered a bit as pairs were shuffled, Yandle all of taken out of the rotation (he played just 7:01), and Sanheim and Provorov double shifted, he still did well in his time with his new partner.
He’s absolutely still smoothing out his game, but he’s also the type of strong puck mover a player like Provorov needs to be playing alongside, so seeing them click well wasn’t a massive surprise. We also saw him flex that great passing ability on his feed to Konecny for his goal.
Travis Konecny gets a great pass from Ronnie Attard and beats Carey Price! pic.twitter.com/ewCJmh1p6c— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 22, 2022
The numbers also bore out well too, as he put up an adjusted 59.64 CF% and 80.52 xGF%. And while, as we said, there’s a lot of work to be done to settle him down a bit and polish out his game, this was a nice flash of seeing him be able to do good things when paired with a competent partner.